Working against ecologies?
"We are not outside the ecology for which we plan-we are always and inevitably a part of it. Herein lies the charm and terror of ecology." Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972)
One of the things that I love most about landscape architecture is the professions keen awareness of how what we do and how we develop our environments, urban spaces, and places, is influenced by the living world around us. But then again, it really isn't just 'all around us'. I'm not going to take you to Avatar's Pandora, but the living world is around us and with us. It is inescapable. Our actions and choices in design all affect the many ecologies and living things around us. For better or worse - we are tied together.
This week we had the opportunity to speak with EDSA of Florida and last Wednesday we spoke with Jason Hellendrung of SASAKI. Both of these firms approach design with similar but different perspectives and approaches. Jason presented some of the work that SASAKI has done and called out the 'Designing with Water: Creative Examples from Around the Globe' work. Like SASAKI many firms, organizations and municipalities are putting a concerted effort into addressing the imbalance that exists between our designed environments and nature. As events like Sandy and Katrina have dramatically called to attention this deficit, the design community is adjusting and moving to rethink the way that we address such issues.
EDSA also calls this out and seeks to be a thought leader in the industry for how they meet the needs of their clients and the way in which they respond to the environment. This is not something taken lightly as it sometimes conflicts with client goals and understanding. In some cases this conflict of ethical interest calls for a termination of business relations. But more importantly, they are most times afforded the opportunity to share their view on land development and help educate the client on the opportunities that are present.
Over the past few decades many professions have been exploring the implications of our interaction with and effects on the world's ecologies. Ecologists like Gregory Bateson and designers like Ian McHarg, James Corner, Nina-Marie Lister, George Hargraves, and Chris Reed have been pursuing the integration and acknowledgement of the land around us, our affects on the land, and how these landscapes are dynamic and changing.
They are adaptable, resilient, flexible, complex, and messy. These thoughts have been integrated into some of the design that have come about in the past decade. Hopefully, I can help integrate this type of thinking into my studio project and learn more about how we can plan for shifting dynamic ecologies.